Fingers and toes

Today I was out with Alain, our mission – to find a few birds in the -39°C wind chill and not die. Our choice of destination was the scenic Casselman area, nestling midway between Montreal and Ottawa in Ontario. It was the sort of day where exposure to the frigid wind had to be limited to short bursts, followed by longer busts of the car heater on full blast and a brisk counting of digits and any other extremities considered to be at risk.

You won’t be at all surprised to hear that we saw a Snowy Owl, 13 in fact. Most were way out in the fields or sat where their photos would be unflattering, but a couple were willing to exchange anonymity for glory by appearing in this blog. We also saw quite a few Snow Buntings and a few other odds and ends but it was slow at times. We had a quick look at Limoges and Larose Forest, in the hope of finding an Evening Grosbeak but no joy.

One of the Snowy Owls was pretty active and we finally had a decent photo op of it at its third location, atop a tree. I took the digiscoped image below, not bad considering the distance involved.

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The ‘best’ of the Snowy Owls was one perched on a utility pole right by the main route. Alain took a few photos and the owl was quite happy to sit. Once it started flexing a bit I got out the warm car, focussed and waited. Sure enough it launched skyward and flew off to elsewhere. Luckily I had a lock on it and managed a couple of shots of it as it passed by, nice.

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We still have five or so weeks of this high intensity Snowy Owl winter residency, so probably many more opportunities to enjoy this fantastic bird, especially if one deigns to favour the pits. Such has been my enjoyment of this abundance of Snowy Owls that I’ll be almost sorry to see the end of the winter (he lies!).

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